But it’s so historically inaccurate and impractical.
With such a long sword, the length of the blade is longer than the reach of your arm. You actually really can’t draw a longsword in a scabbard over your shoulder without hurting yourself or breaking the scabbard. (If you wanted to use a sword this long, you would have to take it off your back before drawing it. It would take a minute.)
Pretending like you can easily draw a longsword over your shoulder is really common in TV shows and movies, but it’s just not practical. Even in Game of Thrones, you never actually see Sandor drawing this sword over his shoulder because it’s impossible and dangerous. No, seriously, go watch that part again. They can’t show him drawing his sword because it’s impossible, so they just pretend he draws it. When he goes to save Loras, it just magically appears in his hand!
A more practical example of great sword use in movies is in the movie Ladyhawke, where Navarre keeps his family sword hung from the saddle of his horse. This is by far how those types of swords were usually carried - if you had a horse, you wouldn’t wear your huge encumbering ungainly sword across your back, you would let your horse carry it. It’s strange that Navarre’s sword wasn’t sheathed or wrapped up in any way, but whatever. Small victories.
It is kind of weird to talk about historical inaccuracy in a fantasy series. But the books are pretty well-researched when it comes to medieval shit. Sandor uses a sword (worn at the waist like a normal, practical person) with a shield, and wears a surcoat over chain mail, with extra armor like a helm, gorget, vambraces, gauntlets, pauldrons, greaves, etc. It’s all very sexy, and while it’s sort of a mishmash of different armor time periods, it’s at least made up of what real knights used historically and we can pretend it’s practical.
(The armor in A Song of Ice and Fire in the Seven Kingdoms actually spans several hundred years of armor history - more primitive armor is used in the North (ring mail) at the same time as more modern armor is used in the south (plate mail in the Reach) If these armor types were to really fight each other, the south would win so hard, but GRRM said this was just to have some interesting visual differences. The knight in shining armor kind of plate armor was never used with a surcoat (which was used to protect chain mail from sun and water damage) or a shield (the plate armor was so protective a shield wasn’t necessary) but GRRM mixed the time periods around because he thought it was more interesting, and he wanted to use plate armor with heraldic symbols. GRRM talks about it here.)
TL;DR: An enormous sword worn over the shoulder is kind of okay, maybe, if you’re just carrying it around while marching? But if you try to draw it that way you’ll decapitate the hell out of yourself. DON’T PLAY AROUND WITH ME, IT’S NOT PRACTICAL.
Not to say the sword over the shoulder thing isn’t hot. It kind of is? It’s just really impractical and I can’t get over it. I realize it’s to show he’s a total badass (with a bigger sword than any other character, lalala, this is phallic in no way), but it’s pretty damn silly if you stop to think about it. Maybe I shouldn’t stop to think about it.
#The Hound #Sandor Clegane #sorry this is one of my favorite subjects #fucking tl;dr #yes there were swords carried by a baldric over the shoulder #but they were either really short #not in a scabbard #or not meant to be drawn over the shoulder #there is a zero percent possibility that a longsword in a scabbard can be drawn over the shoulder #it’s just a perfect storm of impracticality here #TV SHOWS WANT TO LOOK COOL NOT BE PRACTICAL I GET IT #it just bugs me idk #also it bugs me that he doesn’t wear a surcoat in the show #THERE I SAID IT #And at least they got the part where his armor is dingy right #I didn’t even cover the helmet because GRRM said his weird helmets are fantastic on purpose
Excellent post, but let me nerd out a moment too — Sandor never wears a surcoat in the books, either. I know, fanart frequently depicts him with one (heck, my favorite depiction of him does), but he just doesn’t ever wear one. I’ve checked the books back and forth. Not in Winterfell, not on the road, not in King’s Landing, not at the Hand’s Tourney, not as a member of the Kingsguard, not during any of his scenes with Sansa in ACOK, not during the Battle of the Blackwater, not during ASOS at all. The only decorative heraldric items he wears are his helm, his
grandma sweater dog’s head tunic at the tourney feast, and his shield.
It’s actually noted (by Eddard, during the tourney), that Sandor’s only concession to ornament is his cloak and helm. (He uses a shield at the tourney, but its blazonry is not mentioned - in fact it’s not pointed out to be a Clegane shield until the fight with Dondarrion.) However, Gregor is specifically called out as wearing a three dogs surcoat (by Arya in ACOK, and Tyrion in ASOS), as well as using the banner, shield, etc. There may be an interesting point here. I’m glad the show (so far) has gone with it.